§ 4.0 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have further considered the situation with regard to undesignated federal and territorial officers, resulting from the ending of the Central African Federation. The noble Marquess said: My Lords, I beg to ask the Unstarred Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. I hope that the House will not feel that I am being unduly importunate if I raise yet once more a matter arising from the breakup of the Central African Federation, but I feel I must bring to the notice of your Lordships the hardships—indeed, in my view, the injustices—which this settlement seems to have inflicted on undesignated civil servants, both in the Federal Service itself and in the territorial services.
I would emphasise that these undesignated officers are confined to no race: they include Europeans, Asians and Africans alike. Indeed, the Africans who were in the Federal Service are, I think, probably in the worst category of all. Designated officers, as your Lordships know, are expatriate civil servants recruited in this country for service abroad, and undesignated officers are officers who did not at the relevant moment, at the ending of the Federation, come within that definition, either because they had ceased to be expatriate members of a Colonial Service (for a reason which I will explain in a moment) or because they were locally-recruited, and therefore never had been expatriate.
First, I should like to deal, if I may, with the Federal civil servants. So far as I know, the designated do not come too badly out of the ending of the Federation, though I understand that even here there have been cases of hardship. What I personally have to say to your Lordships this afternoon is concerned with the undesignated officers of all races. Practically all of these, I feel, have had a raw deal; and, of them, the most hardly treated of all have been, in my view, those who had been expatriate civil servants up to the time when the Federation came into being in 1953. There were a number of these Colonial 1141 Service officers who at that time happened to be serving in Central Africa and were faced with the extremely difficult choice of either joining the Federal Service, with the wholehearted blessing of Her Majesty's Government, or retiring with such pension as their service entitled them to at that time, but with no compensation for loss of career—and, indeed, with a certain amount of obliquity, for think how shocked everyone would have been if they had refused to take part in this great new experiment! Indeed, in a certain number of cases—I believe in a considerable number of cases—they can hardly be said even to have had that choice. Their departments became incorporated in the Federation, and those who worked in the departments became, almost automatically, Federal officers. In effect it was a matter almost outside their control.
Yet, what is the position of these people now? If they had continued to rank as expatriates, they could have claimed a full pension based on the number of years served plus, I understand, either a lump sum compensation for loss of career or an additional pension which usually amounted to something in the nature of one-third of their earned pension. But, because these people elected to try to make a success of the newly-established Federation, what is their situation today? They are undesignated—as it were, untouchables. They get no lump sum compensation at all for loss of careers; they get only their earned pension plus one-third if they are not offered re-employment by one of the territorial Governments, and only their earned pension with no addition at all of any kind if they are offered such employment and do not feel able to accept the offer.
There are also, of course, many cases of undesignated officers who were recruited locally. It might be argued that their case was not so hard, for they never have had expatriate status; but they are all men who joined the civil service of the Federation at a time when they had no reason to suppose they were not undertaking work which was greatly to the public interest and likely to last the remainder of their lives. And yet now, unless they undertake to accept employment under the new African Government, 1142 in circumstances where they will have no comparable security at all, many, through no fault of their own, but purely by reason of a change of policy by Her Majesty's Government here, suddenly find themselves, as it were, thrown on the scrapheap at an age when it is often very difficult to find new employment. One cannot think of their bleak future without a feeling of deep distress. So much, my Lords, for the Federal officers. Nor is the position of the undesignated officers who have been serving territorial Governments, and who find it impossible to continue their work under conditions where they have far less security of employment than before, a very rosy one, for they, too, had jobs which they had every reason to believe were blessed and sustained by Her Majesty's Government and which, they equally had every reason to believe, would last their lifetime. Now they find that that secure ground is cut from under their feet.
I recognise that some of your Lordships may feel that in what I have said I have overstated the case, and that the position is not all that bad. These unhappy people, it may be pointed out, might have got nothing at all, whereas Her Majesty's Government have at any rate remembered them in the settlement which they made. But I should like to give the House, if I may, one or two examples of how these terms actually work out in practice. I should make it clear that the cases I am going to quote relate to ex-Federal officers, though there are no doubt cases of comparable hardship in the territorial services.
First I should like to give the case of a man aged 45. He had been in the Department of Agriculture, and receiving a salary of £1,650 a year. He was married, with four children, and had a housing bond of £4,000 on his shoulders. He gets a pension, my Lords, of £256 a year. Now I give your Lordships a second instance. It is of a man aged 54, with thirty years' experience in a hydrographic survey. He, too, is married, and he has a housing bond of £2,000. He was getting a salary of £1,700 a year; he now has a pension of only £278 a year. Finally, I should like to give a case where the officer in question appears to be an African, not a European. This officer had been employed in the Customs; he had nineteen years' service, 1143 and his salary with the Government had been £828 a year. He is married and he has eight children. He gets a pension of £68 a year.
Even if these officers do make a great effort and try to get a job under the new, independent Governments, their situation is not really very much better. I have here the case of a man who, by his name, is probably an Indian, who tried to get such a job. He had been employed under the Federal Ministry of Education, and had fourteen years' service. He was earning a salary of £1,290 a year. He got in touch with the Nyasaland Government, and what was he offered? A purely temporary post at £512 a year. Nor, my Lords, are these unique cases. I could quote your Lordships many more cases of Europeans, Asians and Africans. The examples I have given are only three typical examples of a shattering blow which has been inflicted on these unhappy people, often elderly and with very little prospect of getting another job, or at any rate a job nearly as good.
Nor are these pensioners certain that they will get even the "mingy" pensions that I have described. Her Majesty's Government have accepted no responsibility for their payment: they have passed that over entirely to the local African Governments. They have not even obtained an assurance that these pensions will be paid in sterling. In fact, it is now certain that that will not happen; and if, therefore, by the mismanagement of its affairs, one of the African Governments—and this is not impossible—found that its currency had depreciated, the real value of these small pensions would go down with it.
Why these people who have worked so hard, so long and so successfully to uphold the dignity and efficiency of British rule should be given so poor a deal I do not know. It was not so, I understand, at the end of our rule in India or, more recently, at the end of the West Indian Federation. In the case of the West Indies, when the Federation was wound up a locally-recruited—not an expatriate —officer was offered comparable employment in the territories of the Federation and received, at his option, either his full earned pension plus one-third extra, about which I spoke at the beginning, or his pension plus a lump sum in compensation.
1144 But it seems, for some reason hidden from me, that there is a different standard for Africa. Moreover, although there is a nominal provision for dealing with cases of hardship, the definition of hardship has been so stringently interpreted that, although a special commissioner has been appointed, those closely in touch with these matters tell me they know of only two cases where he has made a grant of any kind at all. Indeed. it is made clear in the form which is sent to officers that there can be no question of compensation merely for loss of office.
My Lords, Her Majesty's Government may have intended to be fair in the terms given to these people; but one cannot but feel that the treatment they have had given to them has turned out in practice to be extremely shabby. What I want to ask my noble relative the Duke of Devonshire to-day is that Her Majesty's Government should, in the light of the experience now gained, at any rate give the matter further consideration. This is something that I feel I can very properly do; for in the debate which took place on December 17 last on the subject of the Order in Council for winding up the Federation, your Lordships' House showed itself—and noble Lords who were there will remember it—deeply shocked on two points. The first was the provision dealing with Federal loans and the other was the terms offered to undesignated civil servants, which is the question we are discussing this afternoon. Indeed, the feeling was so strong that I believe that, if we had asked the House to divide on that debate, the Government would have been defeated. One of the main reasons why we did not press the matter to a Division was that we had an assurance from the noble Lord the Leader of the House that if we raised the matter at a later date in the light of the practical application of the Order in Council he would see—and we were most grateful for what he said—that it would have at any rate sympathetic consideration.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, the noble Marquess was good enough to say that he was going to mention this point and I therefore took the opportunity of looking it up. I do not think this is very important; but I did not say that.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I apologise for misrepresenting the noble Lord; but he gave me reason in the speech he made at the end to think that he would consider what we had said. At least that was the impression I got; and that was one of the reasons why we did not press the matter to a Division. But I agree that it is not really of great importance.
My Lords, I have not reverted this afternoon to the question of the Federal loan; but I am afraid that everything we prophesied came true, and those who put their money into those loans trusting the good name of Her Majesty's Government have made a poor investment indeed. Perhaps we may revert to that question later. But we are definitely concerned to-day with the treatment meted out to a number of most deserving civil servants. Here, at any rate, the Government can, if they wish, still rectify to some extent what many of us must feel are injustices done to a most deserving class of people. I would most earnestly ask the noble Duke to give us some assurance this afternoon that the Government will re-examine, in the light of the facts, the terms reached with regard to these people and will report to the House the result of their re-examination. That, I am sure the House will agree, is the least they can do in a situation of this kind. I fully realise that this is a Question and not a Motion and that I have no right to reply; but I reserve the right to raise the matter again if the answer of the Government should prove to be unsatisfactory.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I am very glad indeed that the noble Marquess has raised this matter again and I am quite certain that the House will agree that he was not unduly importunate in doing so, because I think we should all take the view that our responsibility for these undesignated officers of all races, the ex-Federation officers, has not ended with the finishing of the Federation last year. I do not think any noble Lord who was present at the debate on December 17 to which the noble Marquess referred is satisfied by the arrangements proposed by the Government for the payment of terminal pensions to the undesignated officers of the Federal Government.
1146 One of the many unsatisfactory features of the proposed arrangements to which the noble Marquess did not refer was that they could not be concluded during the lifetime of the Federation. This meant that many loose ends were left to be tied up after we had lost our Parliamentary and constitutional responsibility. However, I think the Government have in fact recognised that we still have continuing moral responsibility for these officers, even if we do not have continuing legal responsibility. As part evidence of this, I should like to refer to the fact that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor was good enough to write to me in January to reply to some of the points I raised in the debate in December and to bring me up to date about the position of these officers. I am still completely unconvinced by the noble and learned Lord's reasons for maintaining, as he did both here and in his letter to me, that the locally-recruited officers of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland should have been treated differently by Her Majesty's Government from the locally recruited officers of the Federation of the West Indies. I agree with the noble Marquess that this is a perfectly valid parallel.
The essential difference is this: one must remember that in the case of the West Indies those officers who were unable to get employment with the territorial Governments in the West Indies after the Federation was wound up received a lump sum in compensation; whereas in Central Africa those officers who failed to get employment with the territorial Governments in Central Africa received no compensation at all. They had only the derisory sum of one-third added to their earned pension; and to this the noble Marquess has already referred. The simplification of the situation in these two cases is surely that since both Federations were terminated by an act of policy of the British Government, the public servants who lost their employment as a result of this act of policy should have been treated in the same way. The Lord Chancellor's justification for treating these Federation officers in Central Africa quite differently from and much worse than the officers who lost their employment in the West Indies is that 1147 the Central African Governments had agreed to it. Of course those Governments agreed to it. Her Majesty's Government held the purse strings and they had to do what Her Majesty's Government insisted that they should do.
The real reason for this difference in treatment is, quite simply, that Her Majesty's Government had a different policy in the case of Central Africa from the policy they were pursuing in the case of the West Indies. It is a fact that the British civil servants who argued the Government's case about the arrangement for these terminal benefits in Salisbury had been instructed to press for no compensation. Those were the instructions they received from Her Majesty's Government. If Her Majesty's Government had taken a different attitude and tried to persuade the African Governments to agree to giving a lump sum in compensation, and had, naturally, been prepared to give a contribution to the bill, I have no doubt at all that a compensation scheme would have been worked out and accepted. The Government really cannot escape their responsibility for this mean and shabby treatment of these public servants by saying that the Governments in Central Africa were responsible.
We cannot undo the past, unfortunately, and all we can do now is to alleviate the hardship, to work for a square deal for pensioners and to join in the request of the noble Marquess for a further consideration of these financial arrangements. Of course, if there had been compensation for loss of employment there would have been no need for special arrangements to deal with hardship cases. These officers would have drawn their money as of right, instead of being placed in the humiliating position that they are now placed in, of begging from a public authority. The difference is between drawing assistance from the Post Office and appearing before a public assistance committee. I think that one of the things the Government should most regret is that they have placed these distinguished public servants in this humiliating position.
I believe that a special commissioner has been appointed by the required agency to look into these hardship cases and I should like the noble Duke to answer one or two questions about the 1148 position of the special commissioner. Can he tell us what instructions the commissioner has received in relation to his handling of these hardship cases? He must surely have had some guidance about how to deal with them. I have seen the form of application for relief to which the noble Marquess referred and which applicants have to fill in, and the particulars on this form which have to be supplied suggest that the commissioner is expected to act as a sort of Scrooge. I hope that he is not. I hope that the noble Duke, when he replies, will be able to satisfy us that that is not the case.
Of course, everyone would agree that applicants should declare their income from all sources—that is only fair and reasonable. But is it reasonable that they should have to declare the value of their vehicles—a bicycle would be a vehicle—their furniture, and other household effects? Does this inquiry really mean that the special commissioner has been instructed to carry out a stringent means test? Surely a means test that goes beyond current income and forces a man to declare his savings if he is to receive any payment, is grossly unfair. This would penalise the thrifty man, who had saved during his life as a public servant, as against the spendthrift. I think it is important that we should know what assets would be disregarded by this special commissioner in the assessment of needs and what his instructions have been in regard to that.
There are many hard cases among these ex-officers. I had intended to quote some cases, but as the noble Marquess has quoted some I will not do so, because I think that one or two examples are typical of many others. It is extremely important to people living on as little as these men are living on that they should know whether, if they applied, they would be entitled to relief. It is widely believed in Salisbury that a man would have to be starving before the commissioner would recognise hardship. I hope that this belief is entirely unfounded, but, naturally, so long as it is entertained, it deters people from putting in an application. Can the noble Duke tell us, when he replies, how small a man's income has to be, and what he is allowed for his dependants, before he qualifies for relief? 1149 Finally, there are two matters I should like to raise in connection with the pensions that these officers receive. The first was mentioned by the noble Marquess. These pensions will not be paid in sterling, which is what the officers wanted, but in local currencies. This, of course, gives the pensioners no safeguard against devaluation, and I should like the noble Duke to consider whether the Government could not at any rate give them a guarantee against financial loss in the case of the devaluation of a currency in which their pensions were paid.
My second question relating to pensions was not referred to by the noble Marquess, but I think it is just as important as maintaining the monetary value of pensions. No undertaking has been given to these pensioners about increases in their basic pensions to bung them into line with rises in the cost of living. As your Lordships will remember, this is a statutory obligation in the case of expatriate officers, or designated officers, as they are sometimes called, who are covered by the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1962. I must say that I cannot see why locally recruited officers should not be treated in the same way. The three Territorial Governments should surely be asked by Her Majesty's Government to review the basic position at regular intervals and compare it with the cost of living prevailing at the time, and if an upward adjustment is necessary then the Government should be willing to contribute, with the other Governments, towards this additional payment.
We are not asking for any great sum of money. These are all small matters of public expenditure. I am sure it is not a subject which would give any anxiety at all to any Minister responsible for the expenditure of a Government Department. But if it is generally agreed, as I believe it is, that both we and the Government have a continuing responsibility for these men, I think the Government should respond to the request of the noble Marquess for further consideration and reexamination of the financial arrangements that have been made for terminal benefits of these officers. I do not imagine that a single noble Lord will defend these arrangements. I expect that at the end of this debate it will be obvious that the whole House takes the view that these 1150 pensioners are not being fairly treated. Therefore, I hope that the noble Duke—incidentally, may I congratulate him on the honour that has just been conferred on him: we are all delighted that the noble Duke, who has worked so hard in this House, has been recognised in this way—when he takes into consideration the view of the House in the matter, will be willing, together with his right honourable friend, to reconsider this matter.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I should like to support all that my noble friend Lord Salisbury and the noble Earl opposite have said about those described in the Question as theundesignated federal and territorial officers of the former Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.Many of these matters have been discussed at great length and in great detail in your Lordships' House on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, very little progress has been made in dealing with this most important of the human problems posed by the dissolution of the Federation. The position, when we last debated this matter on December 17, was that while Her Majesty's Government felt unable to reopen the main issues covered by the agreement between the five Governments, there were certain supplementary points on which it was understood that Her Majesty's Government might be able to meet some of the grievances of the former Federal civil servants. Then, your Lordships will remember, some further light was thrown on this matter in a letter which the noble Duke addressed to me and which appeared in the OFFICIAL REPORT on January 30.
Before I attempt to deal with these and other points which have arisen subsequently, I should like to say a word about the general attitude of the British Government towards the fate of the former Federal civil servants. At the time of the Victoria Falls Conference Her Majesty's Government made it clear that they intended to deal with this matter with the greatest sympathy. Mr. Butler, then First Secretary of State, said on July 11 last:We shall he judged by how we solve it.Your Lordships will also remember that he said in another place, in regard to the Federal Public Service:Their future is in our hands.1151 In practice, from the very beginning the attitude of the United Kingdom civil servants on Committee A and the Civil Service sub-committee which dealt with the detailed arrangements left much to be desired. With their great knowledge on matters of compensation, they undoubtedly succeeded in forcing their views upon the representatives of the Territorial Governments and the Federal Government, who lacked their experience of these affairs. Then, I am sorry to say, at a later stage the Commonwealth Relations Office, with no doubt the Treasury firmly behind them, have shown themselves, in my judgment, to be unsympathetic and niggardly to the point of meanness.
This unjust treatment of the Federal civil servants stands out all the more sharply because at this very time the expatriate members of the Oversea Service in the two Northern territories of the Federation are being offered terms of compensation, in the form of bonuses, amounting in some cases to twenty times what they would have received had they been Federal civil servants. The justification advanced by Her Majesty's Government for this shabby treatment was that the Federal Service was recruited locally. We all know, of course, that this was not always the case, and that the Federal Civil Service included a number of officers of the former Colonial Service who, because their departments were transferred wholesale to the Federal Government, had no alternative but to go over with them. We also know that, subsequent to the establishment of the Federation, large numbers of officers, mainly in the technical categories, were recruited in Britain and elsewhere overseas. But even granting the premise that it was technically a locally recruited service, the fact remains, as my noble friend has pointed out, that in the break-up of the West Indies Federation, which is analogous, local officers who were not offered further reappointment received similar terms to the standard expatriate terms.
I have pointed out previously in your Lordships' House that in the case of the Federation, on account of its multiracial character, very special considerations apply to the European and Asian civil servants taken over by the Northern 1152 Rhodesia Government and to the African civil servants taken over by the Southern Rhodesia Government. In the case of Southern Rhodesia I am informed that 16 African members of the staff at Harare Hospital have been dismissed after accepting permanent transfers to the Southern Rhodesia service from the Federal Ministry of Health only a few months ago. Indeed, there are strong indications that, as was repeatedly pointed out by the Federal Public Service Staff Association, the Southern Rhodesia Government had recruited more civil servants than it could afford to employ: and the fear has been expressed that there is a risk that substantial reductions in salaries may have to be made in the near future.
Furthermore, there are about 1,200 officers from the Federal Service now serving in Southern Rhodesia on a provisional basis only, and these include doctors, teachers, agriculturalists and specialists in various spheres of administration. Many of them have already left, and I am afraid that many more will be leaving in the next two to five years. Warnings were given again and again by the staff associations—warnings which were repeated in this House—that this would happen if officers, and especially the technical officers, did not receive the treatment to which they thought themselves entitled.
To turn to Northern Rhodesia, there again the position of the civil servants transferred to the Northern Rhodesia Government is also giving rise to grave problems. The conditions under which offers of employment to former Federal civil servants would be made by the Government of Northern Rhodesia were accepted by the Federal Public Service Staff Association, and also by the Federal Government, on the assumption that no policy of Africanisation would be implemented during the career of the officers concerned. The Northern Rhodesia representative on the subcommittee for the Federal Public Service in fact strongly denied that a policy of localisation—which means the recruitment of officers of Northern Rhodesian origin—in Northern Rhodesia would mean Africanisation. It was on this basis that it was agreed there should be different terms for employment in Northern Rhodesia from those in Nyasaland, where a policy of Africanisation 1153 was fully admitted from the start. The Federal civil servants now employed by the Northern Rhodesia Government find themselves faced with a wholesale policy of Africanisation. They are deeply disturbed about this, and feel that they were "double-crossed" both on the sub-committee of the Federal Public Service and on Committee A. They are now asking that each officer should be allowed to have a second chance to opt whether to accept the previous provisions of service or to take contract terms, or, in the event of his refusing, to qualify for abolition of office with the additional one-third of his earned pension.
As I have also pointed out in a previous debate, there were a number of former Federal officers, who, on transfer from Northern Rhodesia to the Federation, were paid an allowance of £240 a year for a period of fifteen years on the basis of their having purchased or built houses within the Federal area. The Territorial Governments have refused to continue comparable housing grants. This means that a number of officers who had made their personal financial arrangements on the assumption that grants would continue have been placed in great financial difficulties.
When, at the insistence of the United Kingdom representatives on the Federal Public Service Sub-Committee, the Governments concerned finally agreed there should be no lump sum compensation it was also decided that sympathetic consideration should be given to cases of hardship. Those of us who felt strongly that lump sum compensation should be given throughout, as in the case of the Oversea Civil Service, reluctantly accepted the position on the assumption that this undertaking for dealing with cases of hardship would really mean something. What has it meant in practice? A special commissioner was appointed to consider these cases. He is a chartered accountant in Salisbury, and I understand that he was expected to complete his work by the end of last month. While everyone feared that an appointment of this sort meant that there could be no general scheme of compensation for redundant officers, we all thought that at least there would be a real attempt to provide adequate compensation for those most seriously affected.
1154 As the noble Earl opposite said, the terms of the special commissioner have never been divulged. But, as has already been said, out of 40 cases submitted to him only 2 have been accepted, and each of these was for a very limited amount— in one case, it was for a temporary officer in Nyasaland, an old lady, who received two months' pay. Each of the officers applying for relief of hardship had to fill up a form which I can only describe as a degrading type of means test, which included a number of items, to which the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has already referred. My noble friend Lord Salisbury quoted some examples of those rejected. If you read through the list, so it continues. They are mostly people with over twelve years' service and no prospect of employment, because of age, health or for some other reason. Surely, my Lords, it is not too late for this list to be revised on a different basis which would give some greater measure of satisfaction to these unfortunate people.
In other ways, too, the former Federal public servants are being discriminated against. On March 26 this year there appeared in the Daily Telegraph an advertisement on behalf of the Civil Service for 15 posts in the Commonwealth Service of the Home Civil Service. Special age concessions were given to candidates with regular service in Her Majesty's Forces, the Oversea Civil Service or the Sudan Service, but none for the former Federal Public Service. Is there any reason why a concession of this sort, especially in Commonwealth service, should not be extended, so as to include ex-Federal officers, at any rate those who were recruited from the United Kingdom?
I have repeatedly drawn your Lordships' attention to the discrimination against the former Federal Public Service in regard to the application of the Pensions (Increases) Act, 1962. It has been stated by the Government that members of the Southern Rhodesian and Federal Public Service would not be eligible under that Act. This is perhaps understandable in the case of Southern Rhodesia which, having been self-governing for some forty years, can be expected to extend fair treatment in the matter of pensions increases based on the cost of living to its retired civil servants. But in the case of the Federal civil servants, there will be no Federal 1155 Government and no one else to make any increases; nor will there be any funds from which increases can be made. It has been argued again that because the Federal Public Service was not recruited in this country or under the authority of a Secretary of State, it could not be brought within the scope of this legislation. But, surely, my Lords, this has no validity at all, considering the fact that the Sudan civil servants, who were far more remote than the Federal civil servants and, indeed, the former Egyptian civil servants from pre-1923 were included in the Schedule to the Act. It would seem that the barest justice would demand that the Federal Public Service should at once be brought within the full purview of this Act.
I was informed recently in Salisbury that a Permanent Pensioners' Association has been formed, and has applied for affiliation to the Overseas Service Pensioners' Association in London. I hope that they will be accepted, and I hope also that they will be recognised by Her Majesty's Government as the permanent channel for representations to them in matters affecting the former Federal Service.
There are many other questions I should have liked to touch upon this afternoon, some of which have already been mentioned. The question of currency was one, and security of pensions was another. I do not wish, however, to detain your Lordships any longer. I have been deeply perturbed by the attitude of Her Majesty's Government over the past nine months in regard to the interests of the former Federal public servants. It seems to me that there has been a most conspicuous lack of generosity and fairness towards members of that Service, the dissolution of which in the last resort depended on decisions and actions of Her Majesty's Government.
It seems to me that if there ever was a time when pressure should have been brought to bear on the Treasury to go out of their way to be generous, it was surely this. Instead, there seems to have been a policy of disengagement from matters concerning the implementation of the agreement on the Federal Public Service by Her Majesty's Government. In a recent letter to the Federal Public Service for example, the Commonwealth 1156 Relations Office said that in the application of the terms of the agreement the British Government were not competent to intervene. This leaves the former Federal officers with virtually no channels of appeal in matters of interpretation of the agreement by the territorial Government or Her Majesty's Government. Surely it is a responsibility of the British Government to keep a watch on this situation and to hear appeals where necessary, at any time during the period at any rate of provisional transfer which extends up to May 31, 1969.
I trust that when my noble friend replies he will be able to satisfy us on some of these points this afternoon. I can only say that, failing that, I hope that my noble friend will put down a Motion before Parliament rises, when we shall have an opportunity of bringing the matter to a Vote and testing the feelings of the House on this sorry affair.
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I think your Lordships must have been shocked by the case histories which my noble friend Lord Salisbury gave to you at the beginning of this discussion. I think you must have been shocked and ashamed at the things that are done in your name. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, in a very persuasive speech, said that after all it was no great sum of money for which we were asking. But is that not the trouble? When it is a question of spending hundreds of millions of pounds of the taxpayers' money, the Treasury goes remarkably quietly—it is practically a passenger. But when it is a question of squeezing out a few hundred pounds for some loyal subjects of Her Majesty, whose only crime is that they have served Her Majesty faithfully for a number of years, then the Treasury shows that it has the strength and the power that it had a generation ago.
I should like briefly to give your Lordships one more case history. It concerns a humble person, a clerk stenographer, a woman, a person of no means whatever, the kind of person with whom the Treasury delights to have a trial of strength. This lady has served the Nyasaland Government for a period of seventeen years. She is not a designated officer, although at least half a dozen in precisely the same circumstances 1157 have been designated, two of whom were not even British subjects, one being an Austrian and one a German. This lady made such representations as she could, and she received a letter from the Chief Secretary of the Nyasaland Government saying that he was ordered by my right honourable friend the Secretary for Technical Co-operation to reply thus:I am to say that you are not acceptable for designation … as you were recruited in 1947 as a temporary clerk on local temporary terms and your initial appointments in 1940 and 1947 were to temporary posts which did not enjoy expatriate terms of service and which were not posts for which the Colonial Office or the Crown Agents were a normal channel of recruitment.In other words, there were three points outstanding against this application.
The first point was that the lady was recruited as a temporary clerk. In fact, two years after her appointment as a temporary clerk in 1947 she was confirmed as a member of the permanent Civil Service. The second point was that her original appointments were on a temporary basis which did not enjoy expatriate terms of service. Again, when she was confirmed as a permanent member of the Civil Service it was on the normal expatriate terms of service, and in fact she went on overseas leave in 1950, 1954, 1958 and 1962. Finally, it was said that it was a post for which neither the Colonial Office nor the Crown Agents were a normal channel of recruitment. In fact, the Crown Agents were the normal channel of recruitment. She was able to show that each one of those three arguments was invalid, and nobody has denied that. When I raised the matter with my right honourable friend the Secretary for Technical Co-operation, he did not dispute that the points on which she had beer refused were groundless. All he could say was that you had to interpret the scheme in the broad spirit that there would be hard cases, and that this was one of the hard cases. I believe that that was very shabby treatment indeed, and I think it was unjustifiable.
When he raised this Question, my noble friend dealt with the whole field of non-designated officers, Federal or belonging to any of the three Territories, and I am confining myself simply to the case of Nyasaland because it is the Territory with which I happen to be 1158 more familiar; and the case of the Nyasaland non-designated officers seems to me to have very special circumstances. There are only a dozen of these unfortunate people, and, as the noble Earl said, it would cost practically nothing to give them fair treatment. It would not, in fact, create a precedent, because, in Nyasaland, as distinct from the other two Territories, there was no locally-based service; the whole service was expatriate. So the Government could deal with Nysaland, if they wanted to, without creating a precedent anywhere else.
There is just one other point I should like to make on Nyasaland. If it had not been a constitutional development, this case of the non-designated officers would normally have gone to arbitration under the Whitley Council machinery. But Her Majesty's Government, in the new circumstances, have said that arbitration is not appropriate. This lady, of whom I have been speaking, this unhappy clerk-stenographer, a middle-aged woman with no future to look forward to and nd compensation, personally wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, Dr. Banda, asking him whether, in default of Her Majesty's Government, he would not submit the matter to arbitration. She received a reply through the Prime Minister's Secretary in which he said that the Prime Minister had studied her representations andwhile he appreciates the feelings which have prompted you to address him on the matter, he feels bound to observe that, in essence, the issue is one between the officers concerned and Her Majesty's Government.He goes on to say that… even if he were to agree to arbitration, such arbitration would necessarily he fruitless unless Her Majesty's Government was prepared to be a party to it and to accept the arbitrator's ruling.So, as far as Dr. Banda is concerned, the ball is firmly in the court of Her Majesty's Government, and it seems to me that they ought to play it. But not only did Dr. Banda send that reply to the clerk-stenographer; he also asked her to go to see him; and I think that is an indication that the Prime Minister of Nyasaland is not feeling very happy about the treatment which is being accorded by Her Majesty's Government.
My Lords, I hope that the noble Duke who is going to reply in a few moments 1159 will be able to say that the Government will have another look at this which seems to me to be a really quite scandalous situation. The Government must have another look at it. If he is not able to say that, then I very much hope that my noble friend will raise the matter on another occasion when we can put it to the test.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, in company with most noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon, I have also been in these three Territories fairly recently, and I have come across a good many former Federal civil servants who are very closely connected with the matter we are discussing to-day. But I will not repeat, though I easily could, a further list of hard cases, because those noble Lords who have spoken have said quite enough to make it abundantly clear that there are not just a few isolated instances of shabby treatment; they are, unhappily, far too widespread. That, I think, must be accepted by all who have listened to this debate and who have studied the question. I would rather deal with the wider aspects of the matter.
It is surely a question essentially of what is just, fair and decent treatment. Here we have a group of men and women, Europeans and Africans, high and low-level civil servants, clerks and stenographers, male nurses, hospital orderlies, people of that kind, who, when federation started, for one reason or another decided that they would work for the Federation. Some of them went into the Federal Civil Service because, in fact, there was no other job for them to do. Others went in because there were certain opportunities for promotion, and very many went in because they really believed that this offered the solution to the problems of the countries where they had made their homes, where some of them had been born and to which some had gone out from this country. In other words, they went there to do a job which was considered important, which our Government in this country also considered important and which they were doing their best to make a success. For reasons into which we need not go that venture has failed.
The question, quite simply, is: is there any moral, not legal, obligation, upon 1160 the Government and the people of this country to treat those men and women who tried to make a "go" of things fairly, generously or legalistically? It is not a question of putting the blame on the Treasury in this country. It is quite right, of course, for the Treasury to do its best to minimise the burden on the British taxpayer and to keep a very close eye on the expenditure of all Departments. So it would be wrong for us to think that this is purely a Treasury matter. It is a matter involving the goodwill of the Government and their desire to do the right thing to people who we all admit are being shabbily treated and who we all admit have done their best to do a good job, whether it was at high level or low level.
We often talk about the impersonal-ness of the Civil Service as a whole; how it operates by precedent; how it is afraid of doing anything new; how it is bound by rules. It is right that it should be bound by rules; it is right that it should be frightened of creating precedents. It is not the job of the Civil Service or the Treasury to create precedents or to embark on an action which is going to open the door wide to all sorts of expenditure in the years to come. But it is the job of the members of this Government from time to time, when the occasion warrants it, to say to the civil servants: "We agree that this is a dangerous thing, that this may create a precedent; but, in the interests of justice, fair dealing and the good name of this country, we are going to do it, knowing full well what we are doing." There is no mistake about that.
Surely, what should guide Her Majesty's Government in this matter is to make use of the same standards of behaviour that any member of Her Majesty's Government would use in his own business and in his own private affairs. I suggest to noble Lords and to the noble Duke opposite that if any of Her Majesty's Ministers in his personal capacity were confronted with the situation where he had been instrumental in bringing about a merger of three considerable businesses and had persuaded some of the executives in them at various levels to give up their jobs, their pension rights, and their prospects with the businesses they had been with all their lives and join the 1161 larger consortium because it was going to be good for the group that that should be done, and then some ten or twelve years later the consortium failed, went bankrupt, he would not wash his hands of his responsibility towards those people whom he had persuaded to go into that bankrupt business. He would not say, "We will leave it to the accountants, leave it to somebody else to work out what compensation should be paid". Of course, that would not happen. Of course, the individual members of the Government would feel personally responsible for the people they had personally persuaded to change jobs and would do all in their power to see they were not sufferers from having listened to that advice ten years ago.
And this is all we are asking Her Majesty's Government to do to-day. We are asking them to undertake the responsibility for the wellbeing of these people, of whom we have heard only a minute proportion of examples out of the total, so that they will not be the sufferers. And I can assure Her Majesty's Government that if they were to do this there would be no outcry whatsover from the country that taxpayers' money was being squandered; there would be a feeling of great relief that for once this country was acting in an honourable—not generous, but honourable—manner towards these people who had served us well and who, through no fault of their own, were being thrown out with pitiable pensions and very often no prospects at an age when it is impossible to get any other job.
I will not detain your Lordships longer. Enough has been said already to show that this case is one of the strongest which has been put forward to the Government for a very long time, and the sums of money involved are not astronomical at all; they are well within the competence of the Government to deal with speedily. All I would do is to echo the hopes expressed by other noble Lords who have spoken. While I very warmly congratulate the noble Duke on his new and very well-deserved honour, I express the hope that the fact that he has received this honour, which is an indication of the esteem in which he is quite rightly held, will add to the weight of his personal voice in these matters, which I am sure 1162 will be on the side of righteousness, and that he will be able, having listened to these arguments, even if he was not already convinced, to persuade his colleagues in the Government to think once more about this matter, and before it is too late prevent this wrong from being done to this large number of deserving cases who are dependent upon nobody at this stage other than Her Majesty's Government.
§ 5.3 p.m.
THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS AND FOR THE COLONIES (THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE)
My Lords, I am quite certain that all of us who have listened to this debate have been extremely impressed, and indeed moved, not only by the eloquence but by the burning conviction of Members of this House who have spoken on this matter. I have also been greatly struck by the fact that this criticism has come from all parts of the House. When I think of what some noble Lords have said, and the fact that their remarks have been agreed to by noble Lords from the other side of the House; and when I recall the radical differences of opinion on the future of the territory of Central Africa, I can but feel that the suggested adversity of some of the undesignated former officers of Central Africa has certainly made strange bedfellows this afternoon.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
It means that people who differ radically on how the future of Central Africa should be conducted are agreed on this point.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
My Lords, this is the second time to-day—the other occasion concerned the Leader of the House, I think—that a Minister has rebuked two Members sitting on opposite sides of the House because they agree about something that is not of a Party political character. Is there something offensive about noble Lords on opposite sides agreeing?
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, perhaps I might intervene, since the noble Lord mentioned my name. I am beginning to wonder what has happened to his sense of humour.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, perhaps the noble Duke will excuse my interrupting, as he has been interrupted already. I would point out that ever since India became independent both Parties have taken an equally responsible, and I think equally wise and generous, view of the deserts of British servants overseas.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I would certainly agree, and I would beg the House's pardon. In what is perhaps not an easy undertaking this afternoon, I was only making a remark that this was the case; and if I distressed the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition I am sorry, but it seemed a point worth making.
§ EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Hearing us called strange bedfellows I remarked on the strangeness of the language used.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I will, if I may, deal first with the officers who have served only in one of the three territories and then go on to discuss the position of the ex-Federal officers. In Northern Rhodesia there are approximately 800 overseas officers who have not been designated under the Oversea Service Aid Scheme, which is administered by the Secretary for Technical Co-operation. The reason is this. The definition of eligibility for designation under the Oversea Service Aid Scheme, which has been agreed with the Northern Rhodesian Government, is based on the two concepts of overseas status and recruitment through one of the recognised channels for Her Majesty's Oversea Civil Service. The officers in Northern Rhodesia who have not been designated have thus failed to qualify under one of those two criteria. In many cases they have been officers locally recruited to posts for which the Secretary of State or the Crown Agents have not been a normal channel of recruitment, and in other cases we have had to regard them as local officers who could not satisfy the test for classification as an overseas officer.
Much as the Secretary for Technical Co-operation regrets the need to refuse designation to many officers of British origin serving in Northern Rhodesia, it should he borne in mind that the Aid Scheme was designed only for those officers for whom the British Govern- 1164 ment have over a number of years accepted special responsibilities as members of the Oversea Civil Service, and for contract officers recruited in the same way.
It has been made clear on a number of occasions that the British Government cannot acknowledge a direct responsibility for these non-designated officers comparable to that they have accepted in relation to members of Her Majesty's Oversea Civil Service, and that their terms of service are not the Secretary of State's direct responsibility. The question of any improvement of their terminal benefits lies, therefore, with the Northern Rhodesian Government. There is no possibility of designation for this whole group of officers; but individual officers' cases will continue to be carefully examined by the Department for Technical Co-operation.
§ EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, may I intervene? We understand, of course, about the entry into the Colonial Service in the past and the basis of qualification that would be required for designation. But surely there must be many cases among the people now concerned who have been appointed because you could not get other people to do the work through these designated channels, and who have been serving right the way through. Surely, on the basis of ordinary contract between employer and employee, in such circumstances there ought to be some humanity in the relationships now handed out to them.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I understand the noble Earl's point, but Her Majesty's Government have taken the view, and remain in the view, that the distinction must be drawn between designated and undesignated officers. The Northern Rhodesian Government have, however, shown an awareness of the position of these officers by introducing last January a special scheme under which they can now leave with earned pension, which becomes payable at once. Formerly these officers would have forfeited all pension rights if they had retired prematurely. In addition, if they either extend their service by another two years or alternatively are displaced in favour of local officers their pension is increased by one-third. And then they may compute part 1165 of their pension at a higher rate than obtained before.
The representatives of the non-designated officers have from time to time sought to have this scheme improved, and the matter was recently considered by a special Whitley committee, which agreed to recommend an improved scheme which would include an element of lump sum compensation. The Northern Rhodesian Government did not accept this recommendation, and the staff association has subsequently declared a dispute with the Government, who have now agreed to the appointment of a conciliator to try to bring the two parties together.
There are also a number of expatriate officers serving on local terms, who have voluntarily opted in the past to take these terms, and thus given up any link with the Secretary of State. The Northern Rhodesia Government have recently announced their decision to accept a policy of Africanisation in place of the previous localisation policy; and they have also decided that the officers who opted for local terms may now be allowed to give them up and so become eligible to retire on the same terms as in the non-designated officers' scheme which I have already described.
I come now to my noble friend Lord Coleraine. My figures are that in Nyasaland there are 16, as opposed to 12, pensionable non-designated officers, and the Nyasaland Government has introduced a scheme which allows them to retire at any time on earned pension. If they are required to retire they are eligible for abolition-of-office terms, which are broadly similar to the terms being given to the Northern Rhodesia officers. With all respect to my noble friend, I think it would be difficult to take Nyasaland in isolation from Northern Rhodesia. I take the point, but I still think it would be extremely difficult to regard Nyasaland in isolation from the other territories.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I accept that. Then the answer would seem to be: treat them all alike, treat them more generously.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, the Southern Rhodesia service is a wholly local service and is not within 1166 the Overseas Service Aid Scheme, so no question of designation arises.
I turn now to the position of ex-Federal officers whose terminal benefits are provided for in the Dissolution Order in Council on terms agreed between the Federal and the territorial Governments in Central Africa and the British Government. These benefits took account of the fact that as the terms of service of the Federal Public Service admitted no connection with any country outside the Federation, no question therefore arose of accepting Federal civil servants as members of Her Majesty's Government's Oversea Civil Service, or providing them on designation with the benefits of the Overseas Service Aid Scheme. As I said in the debate on December 17 of last year [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 254 (No. 19), col. 121]:These arrangements were formulated after most careful and exhaustive discussion in Committee, and in the view of Her Majesty's Government constitute a fair and equitable balancing of all the complicated factors which had to be taken into account. They were agreed and accepted in full by all the Governments concerned—that is, by the Federal Government, as well as by the three territorial Governments and by Her Majesty's Government.My noble friend Lord Colyton raised the matter of hardship cases. As the noble Lord will know, the Federal Public Service Association, before dissolution, submitted proposals which had the support of the Federal Government that, to give effect to the undertaking of the Governments concerned to give sympathetic consideration to cases of hardship among officers to whom no offer of further employment was made, there should be a general scheme of compensation over and above the terminal benefits for the public service provided for in the Dissolution Order. The territorial Governments and the British Government carefully considered these proposals, but took the view that a scheme of this nature would go beyond the intention of their earlier undertaking and would involve reopening the principles of the agreement on terminal benefits already reached. The Governments did agree, however, that there should be a scheme for the relief of individual cases of hardship among redundant Federal officers, and that the responsibility for this scheme should be placed on the Liquidating Agency as the competent body for making actual payments. 1167 The special commissioner for the consideration of hardship cases was appointed by the Agency and is responsible to it. His terms of reference and method of work are entirely matters for the Agency which, as my noble friend will know, consists of representatives of the three territorial Governments. Again, my figures are not quite the same as those that have been quoted on hardship cases. I understand that 28 applications for assistance have been received; five have been accepted; 21 rejected, and two are under consideration. I think we should consider these figures against the background that, out of a total of 35,000 former Federal officers in employment, 400 established officers were not offered employment by the Federal Governments; and in those circumstances 28 applications for hardship grants is not perhaps as unsatisfactory as might be considered if you take in isolation the figures of applicants applying and of applications being granted.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, might I ask the noble Duke a question? Neither he nor the Government have given the terms of reference of the investigator. Of course, within the limitations placed upon him it may be that he has done his best. But it might not be possible for him to take account of many of those factors which to most of us are relevant. I wonder whether it would be possible for the Government to issue the terms of reference that have been given to the investigator.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, may I ask the noble Duke whether he is in a position to answer my question, about what the special commissioner regards as a living wage? Does a man, or his family, have to be starving before he can get any help? If that is the view, as I believe it is in Salisbury, obviously a great many people who are entitled to help are not asking for it. Can he give any idea of what is regarded as being a living or a minimum wage, below which anybody would be entitled to help from the special commissioner?
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, as I have said, this is a matter for the commissioner appointed by the Liquidating Agency. I cannot give the 1168 House his terms of reference, but I have no reason to suppose that he is an inhuman man.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
Nobody is suggesting that he is an inhuman man. I am sure that the last thing anybody in the House would like is for the special commissioner, or anybody in his office, to feel that we think that he is behaving in an inhuman way. All we want to know is what rules are being applied, and whether those rules can be regarded as equitable and fair.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I take the noble Earl's point. It is a question of how hardship is assessed. I can only repeat the figures that I have given, that, of the cases remitted to the commissioner, by no means all have been refused. I agree that it is far from totally convincing, but it is evident that what the commissioner regards as hardship is reasonable. If I were asked to define what is "hardship", my reply would be that it is difficult to do so, as I am sure the noble Earl would agree. But it is for the Liquidating Agency to appoint the commissioner, and it is for the commissioner to decide. I think I can go no further than that.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I am afraid that I have not the terms of reference with me; but I will certainly obtain them and let both noble Earls have them.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I know that it is unfair to press the noble Duke for details that he has not with him at the moment; but surely it is impossible for the House to come to a determination as to whether or not these people are being fairly treated without knowing what are the rules which are being applied and the terms which are being applied. It is true that that may not be a matter for Her Majesty's Government—I think most likely it is not: it may be a matter which has been settled by the Liquidating Agency. But surely it is impossible for the House to come to a conclusion as to whether we are dealing fairly with these people—in equity, not in law—unless we know what the conditions are. Would it not be possible, without now pressing 1169 the noble Duke for details that he does not have, for him to put in the Library, so that we can all see them, a statement of the conditions which this Liquidating Agency has laid down for the gentleman who has to assess the applications for compensation? Without such information, it seems to me, nobody could come to any conclusion as to whether or not this is fair.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
I will readily give the House an undertaking to get as full information as possible from Salisbury as to the terms of reference for the commissioner who is to inquire into cases of hardship and the yardsticks by which he is to assess when a case is one of genuine hardship and when it is not. I will make the information available to the House as soon as I possibly can.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, can the noble Duke also give an undertaking that there will be an extension of the period during which people can apply? I have been given to understand that it ran to the end of May. if there have been only 26 applications out of many hundreds, there ought to be an extension of the period to enable others to come forward, for I am sure that they exist.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
That is an undertaking which I cannot give, because the last word is not with the British Government. But no doubt this debate will be read by all those concerned, and the remarks of my noble friend will be duly noted. It would be wrong for me to say that I will give an undertaking that this will be done, because I have not the authority to say so.
I should like now to turn to the eligibility of ex-Federal officers for Home Civil Service competitions. It has been agreed that such officers who were previously members of H.M.O.C.S. and who subsequently transferred to the service of the Federal Government should be allowed the same concessions for entry as other ex-members of H.M.O.C.S. It is not possible to extend these concessions to Federal officers without previous H.M.O.C.S. service, since, as I have already said, the terms of service of the Federal Public Service admitted no connection with any country outside the Federation and the concessions are limited to those overseas officers for 1170 whose recruitment the British Government were originally responsible.
Representations have been received from the Federal Public Service Association to the effect that, since the Northern Rhodesian Government has now announced a policy of Africanisation, and thus moved away from the former policy of localisation which was in force when these people exercised their option whether or not to join the Northern Rhodesia service, they should be given the opportunity to reconsider their choice of option. My noble friend Lord Colyton made this point. The Secretary of State is in communication with the Northern Rhodesia Government on this matter, but I am not in a position to say anything further to-day than that discussions are going on. I should, perhaps, draw attention to the fact that, under their present conditions of service, these officers already have the right to retire after two years' territorial service with their pensions increased by as much as one-third.
My noble friend Lord Colyton raised a number of further matters relating to the general Public Service settlement. It is not possible at this stage to reopen these matters, already agreed between five Governments, but I might usefully say a few words in further explanation on a number of them. As your Lordships have noted, the three territorial Governments and the British Government have now entered into a Public Officers Agreement, to-day published as a White Paper (Cmnd. 2387). In this Agreement the Governments undertake not to alter to the detriment of any ex-Federal officer the pensions and terminal benefits laid down by the Dissolution Order and to maintain the arrangements for the Pension Fund, the Pension Agency and the Trustees of the Fund. The Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations have been appointed as Trustees of the Fund.
Clause 5 of the Agreement expresses the accepted obligation of the Governments to make good in agreed proportion any actuarial deficit in the Pension Fund to the extent necessary to meet the terminal benefits. Clauses 6 to 8 provide for the Currency Option which all the Governments have agreed should be available to pensioners when separate territorial currencies come into operation. 1171 This was raised by my noble friend Lord Colyton. In view of the local character of the Federal Public Service and the nature of the Fund from which pensions will be payable the Governments did not feel able to accept the proposal that pensions should be calculated and paid in sterling. In Clauses 5(6) and 8(2) the Governments undertake not to place exchange control or other restrictions on remittances either to the Fund itself or to individual pensioners. Clauses 9 and 10 provide for the taxation arrangements which will be applied by the Governments to pension payments and for the scheduling by the three territories of pensionable service with other Governments, so that arrangements can he made for calculating mixed pensions from all the Governments concerned when the officers retire. Finally, as regards pensions increases the British Government have carefully considered the suggestion that Federal pensions should be brought under the United Kingdom Pensions (Increases) Act, 1962.
This Act provides for the payment of pension supplements to officers of H.M.O.C.S. and certain other persons, such as members of the Sudan Political Service, for whose recruitment the British Government was responsible. The position of ex-Federal officers is basically different, since they were recruited by their own Government, as members of a locally based service, and not by or on behalf of a Secretary of State. Moreover for the British Government, unilaterally, to provide for payments to ex-Federal officers under the Act would be inconsistent with the agreement reached on this matter between the Governments concerned.
Former members of H.M.O.C.S. transferred to the Federal Service will, however, be eligible for pension supplements in respect of that part of their final pension deriving from service in Northern Rhodesia or Nyasaland or any other overseas territory scheduled in the Overseas Service (Pensions Supplements) Regulations, 1963.
I think it was my noble kinsman Lord Salisbury who raised the point of Her Majesty's oversea civil servants who joined the Federal Service. This was carefully considered in the inter-govern- 1172 mental Committee last December before dissolution, but it was concluded that it was not possible to differentiate in regard to terminal benefits between those people and other members of the same Service.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
I was not present at that Committee, but, as I understand their reasons, they were that once you drew a sub-distinction between two different members of the same Service you got yourself involved in a greater degree of inequality than you would do if you maintained them as one Service.
The position of ex-Federal officers is basically different, since they were recruited by their own Government as members of a locally-based service. Former members of Her Majesty's Oversea Civil Service transferred to the Federal Service will, however, be eligible for pension supplements in respect of that part of their final pension. The Territorial Governments have accepted—and their acceptance is embodied in Clause 11 of the Agreement—that they will give the same general consideration to the interests of Federal pensioners as they give to the interests of their own pensioners. I think we should draw full significance from that.
Having listened with great interest to the debate, I am aware that much of what I have said will be unsympathetically received by those who have taken part in the debate, and possibly by those who have listened to it. This matter was gone into very fully by a Committee of all five Governments last December, and I am afraid I cannot accept (I am not sure which noble Lord said it, but it was said during the course of the debate) that the Britain Government told their representatives exactly what to say. I think that less than justice is being done. This Committee, represented by very distinguished civil servants, discussed the matter fully and frankly, and these are the conclusions which they have come to as being just and right. It would not be fair to cast Her Majesty's Government as the complete villains of the piece.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I was responsible for that remark, and I suggest to the noble Duke that, on 1173 reconsideration, he would agree that the Government must take responsibility for the actions and words of civil servants.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
I would certainly do that, but what I intended to imply was that we were only one of five delegations. All five delegations were in agreement on it.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I am suggesting that the Government instructed their own civil servants. I am not suggesting that they instructed the civil servants of other Governments.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
I must have misled the noble Earl. I was saying that we did not rule the whole roost at the conference. We were one delegation among five.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, the noble Duke said that all five Governments were in agreement on this matter. Does he really maintain that if the British Government had accepted the responsibility for its own people the other four Governments would have objected? That does not seem to me to be probable.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, as I say, I was not myself present at the Conference, but we were one delegation among five. I can only repeat what I have said: that these conclusions were unanimously agreed to by all five delegations.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, the noble Duke has had a great many interruptions, but may I ask him about two points on which I did touch? One concerned the question of the advertisements for the British Civil Service, and whether it would not be possible to extend to the ex-Federal public servants the same age concessions as are extended to other members of the Oversea Civil Service? The other point is the question of housing allowances for the ex-Northern Rhodesian Federal civil servants.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I should like to look at the first point, and perhaps I could correspond with my noble friend. On housing, I have made inquiries during the course of the debate to clear up this point, and I can say that it was put to the Territorial Governments at the Conference but 1174 received very strong opposition from the Territories, particularly from Southern Rhodesia, who did not want to make this a precedent condition.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
I think that other Territories thought that if a concession of this kind were made it would make a precedent for this case. But the reason why it was not taken up was because of opposition from the Territorial Governments.
§ EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I am sorry to prolong the interruptions of the noble Duke. I think he has done his best to reply in the debate. But would he not agree that the circumstances in the case which the noble Marquess has raised today have no real precedent in the case of many of the countries for which we have agreed to independence in the last two or three decades, and that it therefore needs to be treated on a somewhat different basis? In almost every case that I remember there has been an ad hoc Government remaining for the ad hoc territory which has been given independence. Perhaps the biggest difference was the division of Pakistan from India; but, nevertheless, there were two Governments there, of native capacity, dealing with the whole territory then getting independence.
Here is a different situation. Here is a territory set up by the British Government, not in every case on a basis accepted by the constituent members of the territory to be set up, but set up by British Statute, in order that there may be a Territorial Government of that country. That Government was brought to an end by a decision of the British Government after certain troubles had arisen therein. Surely, on that basis they have an overwhelmingly greater responsibility for ensuring justice for the civil servants concerned than even there was in the previous cases which had mostly been settled so satisfactorily. Therefore, I think the noble Marquess has been absolutely right in raising the points which he has done, and I wish the noble Duke could assure us that the Government have a greater appreciation 1175 of their responsibility in this matter, and could say whether or not their general financial proposals were sufficient in the light of the matters now being proceeded with.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I should very much like to be able to reassure the noble Earl, but I can only repeat what I have said. Her Majesty's Government have given this matter long and repeated consideration, and they believe that the conclusions to which they have come and the agreement that has now been signed to-day, and which can be read in the White Paper to which I alluded, are just. This is not a snap decision—we have given it long and anxious thought—and all the many long and complicated factors involved in it have been given full weight and full consideration. I can only say that Her Majesty's Government can see no reason to reconsider their decision.
EARL DELA WARR
My Lords, may I reassure your Lordships that I do not have the slightest intention of prolonging this debate? I came into the House not intending to speak, and having heard 1176 much of the case that was put to the Government I could not conceive that we should not get a satisfactory reply. There really seemed nothing more to say. I should just like to express profound sympathy, which I believe many of your Lordships will share, for the noble Duke in being sent into your Lordships' House with so miserable a case to present to us. I can only tell him, and other members of Her Majesty's Government here, that not only I but, I believe, many of your Lordships have found it most profoundly unconvincing, and I sincerely trust that the noble Marquess will take this matter further and will put down a Motion so that it will be possible for your Lordships to give expression to your feelings.